tv Q A CSPAN July 7, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
after that another chance to see monk debate with former house speaker newt gingrich. >> this week on "q&a," former united states senate historian richard baker discusses his newly released historial narratived titled "the girls club: women and wall street." >> richard baker, senate historian emeritus, co-author of the american senate a brand new book, insider history of neil macneil. how did you get together with neil macneil to do the book? >> neil macneil is one of these gigantic figures who not only did he work as time magazine's
chief congressional correspondent, came to the hill in 1949 when he retired in the mid 1980s we went to work on a quick one volume history in the senate. he spent 17 years trying to write that. needless to stay he came by our office on numerous occasions. we ended up getting to the habit of going and having a lunch from time to time and so we had wonderful conversations. near the end, he passed away in 2008 and it was clear he was probably not going to finish it. so he was basically say all right, this is it. oxford university press agreed to publish the book. sent it out to the viewers. i got it and read it and said this is going to be a 700 page book. didn't know when to stop writing. it happens a lot to dedicated
authors. my review said this is a great book lurking in the 700 pages but somebody needs to carve it out. he died shortly there after and oxford came to me said how would you like to be the guy that carve it out. >> how much did you actually have to write yourself? >> about 20% of the book. he had 250,000 words. i boiled it down to about 120,000 of his words and added 30,000 of my own words as well as about 1400 footnotes and extensive bibliography. i knew what i was getting into three years down the road. indeed every bit as challenging as i thought it would be but it was also great fun. >> give us specific on something you thought had to be changed.
>> i guess overall, he was a writer for 30 years for "time magazine." he had a time magazine style. things that didn't really ring terribly well in a general book of this nature. so throughout i went out -- throughout the book i went and changed that a bit. other than that, it was really -- major change was just boiling it down and adding those cursive footnotes. >> you retired in 2009. how long did you work on the book? >> two years. >> i will show some video. it showed some oratory couple famous senators, first one is huey long. when was huey long in the senate and what impact did he have on the senate? >> he had a huge impact on the senate. he was in the senate for a short period of time fromly early
1930s until he was assassinated in 1935. he decided to use the filibuster as a major legislative tool. he did it like almost no one before him done it. >> the video we're going to show is from 1935. we cutting in middle where he's talking about -- well, let's run this and get your comment on it. [video [. >> we'll let one man take off the table. only way you'll be able to feed the people is make that man come back. how you going to feed the people. they can't eat it, they can't wear the clothes, they can't
live in the house. give them a yacht, give them a pilot, send them a reno. that's what they want. >> there's more to that and it's on youtube. people really believe he had a serious chance of becoming president of the united states. he was lining himself up to run in 1936 in a populace kind of campaign with lots of speeches like we just heard. he was assassinated that same year that was done. >> what was the issue? >> basically a disgruntled constituent who -- there were some financial dealings i don't know recall the specifics of it. he had a lot of enemies and assassination was very much on his mind as well as on the minds of his staff who tried to protect him.
>> what did this fellow senators think of him? >> not much. there were probably a few other senators who engaged in same kind of oratory. the one senator who despised him beyond definition was joseph t. robinson from the neighboring state of arkansas. joe robinson of the majority leader. he's responsible to make the trains run on time. huey long was the guy standing out there making sure the trains did not run on time until he finished his extended speeches, recipes for pot liquor. very amusing. people said, the senate is going to places. the senate is not getting anything done. this is during the middle of the new deal, try to clean up after the great depression. we can't afford this kind of extended oratory. we got to figure out a way to take this man off his feet. >> here is some video 47 years
later of his son. his son was one of those, as you remember, suppose to television. let's watch him 47 years later in the senate. [video clip] >> let me make this clear. i'm not in on this combine. i didn't make any deal with anybody. i don't know what deal you made up to now. when i find out about it, it may be something i can vote for and it may not. >> i understand that. >> i want to make it clear, i couldn't care less what deal you made with somebody and why he agreed to this and why somebody agreed to that. what concerns me what this bill do to the country. it's going to have to take its place in line, wait its turn. we have got 10 monopoly bills sitting up there. >> russell long, what was the difference between him and his
father? >> about 30 years. also, bit more moderate. he had a significant drinking problem earlier in his senate career. one of the best things that happened to him was to marry one of the staff members named carolyn. who indeed helped him get his act together. he came extremely, powerful, knowledgeable tactician on the floor. any new senator who had any intelligence at all will try to cultivate him as a mentor. >> what was the difference between the united states senate in 1935 and 1987. what changed? >> well, i'd say number one, the method under which people arrived in the senate. the whole campaign procedure in the american senate, the two first two chapters are about
trying to answer that question. there were senators, george aiken of vermont comes to mind, who was latest in 1960's, boasted that his campaign, his campaign expenditures amounted to $147. today it's multiple millions of dollars. the senators of the 1930's were not splendid. some were. some of them were pum -- bumpy. they would come to town may be come home four times a year. this is one time before high speed travel. they can settle in and get to know one another, may be get to know the families of their colleagues. whether they were republican or democrats, didn't matter. much slower kind of time for sure despite the national crisis
they had to deal with. >> you mentioned joseph robinson from arkansas. we have some video of mark pryor the senator from arkansas talking about him. [video clip] >> in 1930 he was elected to serve in arkansas's governor but was immediately selected to fill a vacancy. robinson was the last senator chosen by the arkansas state legislature before the implementation of the 17th amendment which established. in the senate, robinson took on leadership roles including majority leader, following his death in 1937 authorizing the acceptance of robinson's portrait as a gift to the senate. the portrait was later presented to the senate by robinson's
widow. >> what do they mean by fightingness man in the senate. >> first of all he was a large man. he was given to rages whether they were orchestrated or from the heart. face will turn scarlet. he will beat his breast on the senate floor and scream and yell. >> you talked about that when the senate changed because of direct election. what brought on the direct election? what amendment was it request. >> it was the 17th amendment of the constitution. it was adopted finally in 1913. the first version of that amendment was offered in 1826. constitutional change kind of comes slowly. the house on a number of occasions, throughout the 19th century, passed that amendment.
send it over to the senate and the senate killed it. one of the main reasons, southern senators who had a strangle hold on the procedures, who were very much afraid that if you have direct popular election, you're going to have african-americans voting for senators. that was something that until the jim crow laws began to really disenfranchise african-americans that was a concern. by the turn of the 20th century, they weren't quite as worried about it. then of course the progressive reform movement. the election of 1910 really brought a sea change into the senate. much more open. direct popular election of senators was one of the standpoints for reform and finally it got through. >> what changed then? >> i should add, the main reason
it got through, a number of rather terrible corruption cases. senators who literally would go to their state legislatures and hand big packet of money off to the state legislatures for their vote. over and over again, the senate was tied up whether a senator had secured his election. it was always his election by corrupt means. after it went into effect, i think one of the points we make in this book, did it make any difference to have direct upon -- popular election. yes it did make a difference. senators began to act like house members. which is is not something senators want to hear. they had to deal with the people as opposed to if you got a state legislature and let's say there's 26 members of the state
senate, all you need is 14 votes and you can easily pay off 14 senators. paying off their mortgages in couple cases to buy their election. after direct election amendment went into effect significantly. the 1914 election, every incumbent who chose to seek reelection won. >> can you remember the last senator who served in the u.s. senate who had been selected by the legislature in a state? >> i used to know that. i forgotten that. if you knew the name -- if you happen to recall the name, i would tell you whether you're right or wrong. >> i cannot. that's why i ask you. >> you may have recalled that. >> didn't it go into the 40's or
50's. >> indeed. i think there was a senator from florida. having retired from the senate, almost four years ago, there are some things that slip away. >> speaking of a senator from florida he's mentioned in this book, senator george explained what role he played. >> he was a very good friend of john f. kennedy. they were drinking pals. each contributed to one or another political education. george smatters is best remembered for 1950 campaign. he defeated claude pepper. some people thought that was a skullest campaign. george smathers going around
giving speeches saying claude pepper has a sister and his brother is a practicing homo sapien. george smathers denied all of that. he did an oral history at the time that claude pepper died to try to set the record straight. by parent in this book, neil macneil said he should have left it alone. it's one of the greatest whit of all time to come up with that kind of campaign attack. >> neil macneil who you co-authored this with died in 2008 of what? >> cancer. >> what kind? >> i believe it was lung cancer. it spread. >> what was he like? >> you never forget neil macneil. he was a large deeply knowledgeable man who was very confident in his own abilities
and justly so. he had the power, most senators knew this, to put a senator edward -- senator on the cover of "time magazine." he did a book in 1963 called "forge of democracy" that was a pretty popular book. the question was where is your senate book. that's where had decided to begin his research. enormously tenacious. he called me up and he'd say, i got this question of rules from 1911, i just can't find it. i ransacked all the sources can you help me with that. most cases, i had no better luck than he did because he was so thorough. >> some in the audience will remember in on washington week review.
he started a program before that that led to washington weekend review. did you ever talk to him about his beginning? did he do all history himself? >> he did not. he was very proud of his role as one of the founding journalist. he did that for 12 years starting in 1967. also appeared on "meet the press" and "face of nation." he was a well known face in the sunday morning television circuit. >> let's go back and listen to george smathers talk to l.b.j. on the phone from famous oval office conversation. [video clip] >> i talked to russell long too. >> he's with the doctors isn't
he? >> yes. we can't just come in there because you ask and i suddenly ship without destroying. >> you get a hold of that and you call me ba and i'll go to work on your judgeship. you hang those on the wall, if they got to have a canal, we'll do it. this is one vote i cannot lose. charlie haddock told every republican if you vote against me, you're out of the republican party. he will get a solid vote. i got about 29. rogers from my own state and some of them have taking walks and some of them are going off, some of them will say, i had to get him. you just see what they got to have and let's get it. >> what do you think?
>> classic. absolutely classic. imagine the majority leader of the senate as he was back in the 1950's, of course the president of the united states saying this is one vote i cannot lose. >> how many presidents in your experience you think will make that kind of conversation? >> it will be hard to think. >> can you imagine barack obama doing that? >> no. i can't. i may be inferior to him. >> is that good or bad? >> both. it came with l.b.j.'s personality. another large man who had fire in his eyes and he look at you and you're a junior senator or even the chairman of a committee and you knew he could shake the rest of your career in the united states senate. if he chose either help or stand in your way. you paid attention to him.
>> did you write for preference? >> i did. >> this is the line i want you to expand on. today, the u.s. senate continues as the most powerful upper house of any legislative body in the world. what does that mean? >> it means that most legislative bodies have upper houses that are only rubber stamps. >> give us an example. >> let's see france. >> great britain with house of lords. canada with its senate. >> so the lower house passes the substance of legislation. goes on to the upper house. the upper house got to review it and send it back. the lower house say we respect your opinion but we're going to pass it again and then it becomes the law of the land. it's the italian senate and united states senate that have absolute veto over the work of the lower body. >> what's the history on why that was felt to be the way it should operate? >> a fundamental issue with the
constitutional convention in philadelphia in 1787. major concern, you're going to have a house elected by the same people who are eligible to vote in state legislative elections. those people can be a little impechous in their in their decision. we need a cooling body to stop and slow down. as one senator said in the 19th century, the senate is the place of sober second thought. that's what the framers of the constitution had in mind. >> everett dirksen, what role in history did he play in the senate? >> he's most remembered for making it possible to invoke cloture on civil rights legislation. >> what does that mean? >> to shut off the bait with the proper amount of votes. they needed 67 votes to end debate on
this 1964 civil rights act. southern senators were determined not to pass that. everett dirksen who managed to gather up enough republican colleagues to give them 71 votes to pass it. that was huge because it was the first time ever that the senate shut off debate on civil rights legislation. it was really the beginning of the end of southern filibusters on civil rights. gap did you -- >> did you ever know him? >> i saw him in action in the mid 1950's. came to visit the senate chamber one time. for many years in the 1970's and 1980's i served on board of directors of the mckinley-dirksen research senator in illinois. really state-of-the-art research facility. neil macneil did biography of
everett dirksen. >> was he the show horses and the workhorses? >> he was both. he really was both. may be little more on the show horse side. there he was at the tournament of rose parade grand marshal 1968. he was cutting record albums using his magnificent voice. i heard ken burns, respond to a question, what your favorite story about the capital. he had to think. he did a film on the capital in the 1980's on congress. in that film, there's a story about these ladies who came and stopped everett dirksen outside the door of his republican leader's office. ladies, you wish to work with me. what can i say to you. one of the ladies said, nothing
senator, we just wanted to hear you. he was so theatrical. this is a man who grew up in a country outdoor theater circuit and was very proud of his voice and was indeed an actor. people criticized dirksen for being -- he was too infusive. the grand old camillion. this is a man who knew how to make the senate work. >> he wanted the merry gold to be -- >> tosh
>> -- to be the national flower. >> here is everett dirksen in 1968. [video clip] >> do you think that any votes of mine ever changed. >> sometimes it depends on the nature of the subject matter and obviously on the type of speech you made. it happened twice to me and once on civil rights. i tell you, that quote from victor hugo allegedly written in his diary, time has come stronger than all the armies on earth. >> what was the other time? >> the other time was sugarville. it was late at night and i prepared for it. and i laid into it. well, several members came down,
said you changed the votes. you hear it from the members, you're not particularly conscious of it yourself. >> that's an excellent question. do votes get changed by oratory on the senate floor. in this book we have chapter on debate. that's the fundamental organizing question in that chapter. very seldom but sometimes. >> can you think of one other than the one he mentioned where somebody changed their vote? >> no. i don't. if i knew more about it, i might think of one. >> i can remember being in the chamber when they had a vote back in 1970 on the a.b.m., whether or not to have a missile system. the guy that stood up and made the most dramatic speech was a guy named john pastore. did you ever know him? >> i watched him. you never forgot him when you
watched him. they called him the bantam rooster. >> we got video from him from 1964 democratic convention. it's interesting to have somebody like this on the floor when they have television. here he is. [video clip] >> when the world fulfills and all is held up and there stood john kennedy 10 feet tall. 10feet tall but determined, courageous and for the first time we saw him pick up and go
home. >> john pastore rhode island democrat. been out of there since 1976 or something like that. didn't die until 2003. >> that's right. >> as a matter of fact, i think his wife just died. anyway, would it -- let me ask you this, how about the oratory today compared what we seen with huey long and russell long and john pastore? >> much more docile, less robust for sure. it brings to mind edward kennedy and particularly in his later years, it was a pleasure regardless of whether you supported what he was doing or didn't. to come into the chamber and watch or c-span and watch his oratory, spectacular.
old school for sure. >> over the years, when were the big increases in the senate in other words when it started back at the beginning, how many senators were there and how did it increase up to 100? >> well, there were initially 22 because all -- because not all of the 13 states ratified the constitution when they first convened in 1787. then gradually through the 19th century, the numbers increased. by 1888 on their 100th anniversary, they had 76 members. that began to pose major procedural problems. got all of the people out there seeking attention. it's a lot easier when they were a smaller body. finally, with the admission of alaska and hawaii in 1958 and 1959, they achieved their 100. it's a far cry from house of
representatives with 435 members. it was just no place for people to sit. >> this is not talked about often. this occurred early 1951 when tennessee, a freshman democratic senator casually allowed a local television station to broadcast live a hearing, he was conducted in new orleans as part of an organized crime investigation. >> nobody in the senate payed too much attention to his request. of course in 1951, we got our first television set. one of the first -- next thing you knew, people were talking about him as a candidate for vice president or president because of the power of television and the power of investigative hearing. >> you say in the book, harry
truman didn't like him very much. >> there's no question what harry truman liked or didn't like. he thought it was a grand stander. truman was in the senate for 10 years. he's the one that famously said that a senior of senator when he arrived in the senate, said for the first six months you will wonder how you got here. after the first six months, you're going to wonder how the rest of us got here. truman had right respect for the seasoning process for the senators. >> how much did you write in this section? >> that section is mostly neil macneil. >> he said indifferent to the station request, home state of tennessee, preoccupied with panel proceeding, he was first
mindful that the hearing was broadcast. the public's reaction however was spectacular. why later on if the public reaction was spectacular did the senators fight to put themselves on television? >> the issue with the senate rules, the fact that the public will lose respect very quickly for the senate when they see this endless series of quorum called. it's not the senate medium said the opponents of it. it's what we hear about the supreme court. we can't have broadcast of the supreme court deliberation. that's unfortunate. that was the attitude. >> one of your former colleagues in the house of representatives who is the parliamentarian m r. johnson, we thinks it's been bad for the house of representatives. what do you think television has done for the senate?
>> it was inevitable thanks to some -- thanks to certainly some members like senator robert byrd and howard baker who were receptive to the argument. sooner or later, the house went on television in 1979. senate waited until 1986, more deliberate of body. it took them longer but the perches so great, -- the pressure was so great. senators all of sudden becoming sort of known member of the state's delegation. >> it would be interesting seeing this man, united states senator majority leader during television. here he is after he retired coming back and giving a speech. he a suspicion you might have been in the room on this. >> yes.
>> [video clip] >> my mid-1963, various democratic senators had begun to express publicly their frustration with the lack of prepared progress in advancing the kennedy administration's legislative initiatives. other senators were equally determined or less open in their criticism. but they were equally determined that i, as majority leader, should begin to knock some heads together. after all they reason, democrats in the senate enjoyed a nearly two to one party ratio. with those numbers, anything should be possible under the lash of discipline leadership. 65 democrats, 35 republicans, think of it, senator daschle.
[laughter] of course i used the word enjoy loosely. ideological differences within our party undercut that apparent numerical advantage. >> what would he -- he was on television a lot, "meet the press" and things like that. what would he had been like between lyndon johnson and the majority leader? >> differences between one and 100. he was famous when he appeared on "meet the press" for going through many questions. so profoundly different styles. mike mansfield was the product
of lyndon johnson. senatorred did not want a lyndon johnson. they wanted somebody that will kind of keep quiet. mansfield his philosophy was, we let 100 candles flicker. that's when lyndon approach his concept of leadership on the senate. before too long, about a year or two into his leadership, begin to get a lot of criticism from some of the johnson's friend in the senate. it called everett dirksen, the republican leader, to come to the defense of the democratic leader saying, you should not talk about air leader for our leader this way. it was mike mansfield said this is the way i am as a leader. you can basically take it or
leave it. he was going to give that speech on november 22, 1963. of course, that was the day john f. kennedy was assassinated so he never gave the speech. 1988 came along and it was time for this speech, part of a series of speeches by former leaders of the senate that senate majority leader trent lott organized, mike phone and it was mike mansfield. he said, i've been asked to give a speech for this series. what should i talk about. well, i knew about the famous 1963 speech on the nature of leadership that he never gave. he did stick it in the record at the time. i said senator why don't you give that and shape it a little bit. he did. it was the first in a series of
speeches on leadership. they're all on the senate website. it was a blockbuster. >> we hear a lot today about how this is the meanest time in history in the united states senate and house of representatives. i will read back to you what's in this book. it's not something that you put in, it's got a footnote. clay hated jackson and calhoun, betton hated calhoun, calhoun hated clay and jackson and john quincy adams hated webster. jackson hated calhoun and clay. it allowed them to converse with one another at all. >> i looked into that. that was a very powerful statement. i didn't realize the hatred one example of john quincy adam and
danny webster. he called him a rotten heart. it was danny webster who blocked john quincy adam one major aspiration to be in united states senate. danny webster didn't want -- he wanted somebody less threatening. for the rest of his life, john quincy adams resented webster for that particular action. >> they hated each other. >> but they also love each other. it was daniel webster that wrote the encryption that is on john quincy adams coffin about his accomplishments. >> later on in the book, clay himself could be savage. clay and benton good benton --
engaged in a shouting match. >> benton is a democrat from missouri. benton was a large kind of bullying type of man who is remembered for pulling for moving down the senate aisle in 1950 against a senator from mississippi named henry foot. foot was so intimidated by the president of thomas heart benton. it was benton at that point, opened his jacket and told other senators trying to put this to an end, stand out the way. let the assassin fire.
fortunately the assassin did not become the assassin. >> were they ever fired in either chamber? >> not in the senate. i don't think in the house. everything short of that. >> you have any idea how many senators and congress people carried pistols. >> in that particular time period, i don't have any hard evidence. it wouldn't be surprising is to say 20% or more. >> let me read some more. clay denounced alabama's william king for making false and cowardly remarks in the senate. clay disparaged him as a drunken
house. >> they haven't read this book. it's certainly bad, no question. it's not unusual. it's not the first ever for sure. you can start at the very beginning of congress. certainly 1798, the federalist versus the democratic and republicans, they hated each other. thomas jefferson said if we saw a member of the opposition, we'd cross the street to avoid having to tip our hat to that person. >> do you have any idea when the dual stopped? >> in the 1830's through the 1850's, it was a famous dualing ground. not for from capitol hill. many invitations to meet me out there from one member to another. >> senate debates were violent and sometimes ugly.
clay mastery of vote hustling prompted senate opponents to call him a dictator. it's amazing the language that was used in here to describe them. question, neil macneil was a journalist. you were an employee for the united states senate for 35 years. did you have any trouble with the adverbs and adjectives to define people in this book? >> no. neil macneil was a good journalist with a vast command of the english language. sitting there reading his drafts, i say yes, that's right. far really gets to the heart -- that really gets to the heart of the matter. i think to sensor it and cool it down, i just welcomed it. >> i gathered you wrote the story in here about the current
senate minority leader, mitch mcconnell from kentucky. there's a story in there about his background and how he got there. >> i never known he had polio as a young man. it took a lot of courage and tenacity on his part and some help from a very determined mother to get over that and to move on. at one point, he was interested in becoming historian even today, very well read in american political history. that's tough decision. does he want to become an academic or a politician? >> you say he had a goal of becoming the majority leader in the united states senate. what encouraged him to do that? >> he had a very fortunate summer internship with senator john sherman of kentucky. >> a liberal republican?
>> there were some, yes. all the more power to internship programs. that is such a crucial time in people's lives. >> then what was next? >> then we went to work for -- when he graduated, went to work for another senator from kentucky. marla cook, a republican senator. very intelligent interesting gentleman. got involved in the civil rights act, i believe in 1964. >> how often do senator that's end up in leadership come from staff? >> fairly often. it was one of the major reasons why senators did not want to have professional staff. it really was not until after world war ii that they decided they needed them.
you hire these staff and pretty soon you're going to have somebody smarter than you are. they could probably beat you in a primary. some cases that happened and other cases they succeeded. >> last time we talked when you were retiring in 2009, senator robert byrd was alive and he also was waiting the opportunity to claim the longest serving member of congress ever. that's already been retired. >> depends on how you define it. if you just say senate, probably he'll hold the senate record longest serving senator in history. i think that would satisfy him. he will seal the frosting on the cake to save the whole congress. today he would smile to say i'll hold on. >> you write a lot about the civil rights act of 1964. this is an interview we did with him where he was asked the
question about why he changed his mind on civil rights. he was very much against the bill at one point. i want you to react to this. [video clip] >> it came to my mind at that time how i loved his grandson. it also came to my mind that black people loved their grandsons too. the more i thought about it, suppose i were black and my grandson and i were out on the highways in the mid hour of the morning or midnight. i stopped at a place to get grandson a glass of water or have him go to a restroom and there's a sign, whites only. black people love their grandson as much as i love mine, that's
just not right. we, like myself were born in a southern environment, grew up as southern people, knew their feelings about the civil war and all of these things. i thought my goodness, we ought to get ahead of the curve really. not have the law force used to it, well take down those signs. that is what made me come to the conclusion if i had to do it over again, i will vote against that law. >> you done some work with robert byrd? >> yes, on the board of directors. >> you have in jefferstown? >> that's right. >> what do you think of that answer? >> oh. in 1982, senator byrd lost his grandson, 16-year-old john-michael moore in an automobile accident.
he was delivering papers early in the morning. probably the most devastating event in senator byrd's life. it was a very unhappy period. it caused him to rethink his life and contributions and where he wanted to go. >> what will be his legacy. >> it will be a significant legacy. it starts with robert byrd and ends with robert byrd. i different see any other way to do that. he really bring focus to the senate as an institution. he was interested in the majority leader's power to arrest senators. they were hiding and they didn't want to make a quorum during filibuster. he called me in one day, he said suppose you give me a little piece on the history of arresting senator who are hiding from filibusters.
i did and he liked it and he gave a floor speech and other questions on other matters of the senate procedure. before the 1980's were out, he had delivered 100 speeches like that and then they were published during the bicentennial of the senate. we'll be remembered for that for sure. also for the conscious of the senate. he developed, evolved over the course of his career. >> he ever get mad at you >> one time i went into him with a great idea for a book he might want to work on. he looked at me, dr. baker, that could be your book but that's not going to be my book. that's probably as close he came. >> he did get mad at you. we
saw him often in hearings. >> absolutely. not at me though. >> no, not at you. >> we had a very cordial relationship. >> here's another famous name, the building is named after him, this is from 1952. early television. let's watch richard russell. [video clip] >> do you think that it is now possible for a southerner to receive the democratic nomination for the president? >> i don't like to think after 90 years intervene and the democratic party has loyalist. supported by the south over that period. a man will be discriminated against because you had been born on the wrong side of the tracks. >> did you ever know him? >> no he died in 1971. >> what impact did he have on
the senate? >> he had a huge impact while he was a member. his lasting impact hard to assess. there's a table, very large table that was in his office suite. the table is significant because around that table would sit members of the southern caucus. they ran the senate throughout the 1930's, 1940's on into the 1950's. he presided over the southern caucus. certainly the civil rights act of 1964, he was having no part of that and it took a lot to work around his opposition. but he was certainly from lyndon johnson's point of view, he was a great mentor. lyndon johnson learned a lot about the senate when he came over from the house. >> here's another famous southerner, this is from 1987. he's on the floor of the senate
and he's had leg amputated. [video clip] >> i want to compliment the senator from new jersey and new york in preparing this bill and holding the hearings and going to a good solid amount of difficult wait at times. something we take for granted and don't get into the facts enough as to what has been done. i want so call attention -- >> anybody like him around anymore? >> i don't know. he was revered by his colleagues. irrespective of their political points of view. a man of great propriety. whenever there's an issue of ethics to be looked into, they would turn to him.
one of a kind for sure. >> this is the second to last sentence that you wrote. did you write that last chapter? >> yes i did. >> it's called "to the future." scanning the two plus century landscape one will note significant change coming episodic and unplanned burst and one will note dire frustration. what are you saying >> ayman to that i. -- amen to that. i'm saying, analyst who say that the senate is in its last days are too close to right now. what they need to do is back up and take the longer view. my wife read this book shortly before i sent it off to the publisher. she looked at it and she said, now i get it. now i understand. i hope everybody else thinks the same thing. the senate is profoundly a conservative slow moving history
tradition-based institution. if you don't remember that, don't take that into consideration, the senate makes no sense what so ever. if the senate moves to -- changes its rules from majority culture, huge problem. it won't be the senate anymore. when you consider, if you ranked all the states in terms ever population and take the top 26 in small populated states, those amount to 16% of the population. the smallest 26 states. they would have 52 votes in the senate and therefore, the majority. that was a great concern of the framers of the constitution. it hasn't really broken down that way. they don't vote by states but they could. >> couple week ago, we were running a hearing with barbara from maryland in the chair. she read a tweet. saying that somebody accused
something on c-span. she answered it right there. is that good or bad for the senate >> for many years, from the time television came to the senate 1986, there was a prohibition against laptops and blackberries in the senate chamber just for that reason. people will be responding and any constituent can immediately have contact on the floor of the senate. i don't think it's a good thing. >> is it good for the citizenry to get that far that close to a senator? >> no, i don't think so. the citizenry nowadays, gets very close to a senator through his or her office. a senator voted recently for cloture on the immigration legislation and then ultimately voted against it. the senator within a matter of minutes was diluged with death
threats. they're getting close to that senator. >> you said the last time you were here, you wanted to write a book about the communication between the constituent and the senators. i wonder if you gotten any closer to that idea >> no, i haven't. it will be a hard book to write. it would require a lot of research and a lot of senatorial paper. >> what else do you have to do? >> i have another book i want to write. >> what do you think it would be now? >> i would like to do a book about the relationship of may be two senators, two very powerful senators probably some time in the past. whether good documentary records and just get a sense of how that went and how that relationship had an impact on the making of the laws that people -- >> i bet you already picked those two out? >> i have some thoughts. i need to run it up the flag.
>> later next time, but not without busy days. richard baker our guest, co-author with neil macneil now deceased since 2008. a book called "the american senate: an insiders history." thank you very much. >> thank you brian very much. >> for dvd copy of this program, call 1(877)662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org.